Redcats USA prefers plus sizes

According to parent company PPR’s fourth-quarter and full-year sales results, the conglomerate’s Redcats Group has decided to “discontinue the activities” of its “Missy” division in the U.S. One would think that means Redcats USA is shuttering its standard-size apparel catalogs Chadwick’s and MetroStyle. But that’s not exactly the case, says Redcats USA CEO Eric Faintreny.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll close,” Faintreny says, referring to the Missy division, which in addition to Chadwick’s and Metrostyle includes an Internet company known as Catalog Closeout Outlet (CCO). “We are looking for solutions,” he explains, noting that the company has retained St. Louis-based investment banking firm Stifel Nicolaus to examine strategic alternatives for the division. Faintreny declined comment regarding the factors that led to the decision.

Redcats USA also includes the plus-size women’s apparel titles Woman Within, Roaman’s, and Jessica London; the King Size catalog for men; home goods merchants BrylaneHome and BrylaneHome Kitchen; and sporting goods retailers The Sportsman’s Guide and The Golf Warehouse.

Last year Redcats USA bought plus-size women’s apparel retailer United Retail Group for $198.9 million, or $13.70 per share in cash. “We want to be a leader in the plus-size multichannel market in the U.S.,” Faintreny says. “We want to focus on resources in that particular segment.”

In other company news, Redcats Group announced on Jan. 24 that it would shut its Empire Stores business in the U.K. Empire was one of five major players — including Great Universal Stores, Freemans, Littlewoods, and Grattan — that long dominated the British catalog or “home shopping” market.

These big-book marketers traditionally sold general merchandise on credit to lower-income U.K. consumers via sales agents (similar to the old Avon ladies). But the business model had become outdated with the advent of the Internet and the proliferation of credit cards, as well as more women working full time.

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